*Key message The high flammability of some companionspecies in
Quercus suber forests, estimated in laboratory
tests, could potentially generate an increase in fire vulnerability
and in fire risk.
*Context Recurrent wildfire is one of the main causes offorest degradation,
especially in the Mediterranean region.Increased fire frequency and severity
due to global change could reduce the natural resilience of cork oak to wildfire in
the future. Hence, it is important to evaluate the flammability
of companion species in cork oak forests in the particularly
dry bioclimatic conditions of North Africa.
*Aims This study aimed to assess and compare flammability
parameters at laboratory scale among ten companion frequent
species in cork oak forests.
*Methods Fuel samples were collected in a cork oak
(Quercus suber L) forest in the southern part of the mountains
of Tlemcen (Western Algeria). A series of flammability tests
were carried out using a Mass Loss Calorimeter device (FTT
®). A cluster analysis to classify flammability of the selected
species was conducted using the K-means algorithm.
* Results The results revealed differences in the four flammability
parameters (ignitability, sustainability, combustibility
and consumability), in both fresh and dried fine fuel samples
from Quercus suber, Pinus halepensis, Quercus ilex, Quercus
faginea, Erica arborea, Arbutus unedo, Pistacia lentiscus,
Calicotome spinosa, Juniperus oxycedrus and Tetraclinis
articulata. Application of the K-means clustering algorithm
showed that C. spinosa, T. articulata, J. oxycedrus and
P. halepensis are highly flammable because of their high combustibility
* Conclusion The findings identify species that could potentially
increase the vulnerability of cork oak forests to forest